According to golf stat man L.J. Riccio, Ph.D., the most important factor for low scores is greens in regulation. Statistically, every extra green you hit in regulation is equal to two strokes off your average score. The problem is that, over the long haul, you’re not going to be in position to hit a green in regulation unless you’ve driven it long enough for a short-iron approach. That’s why this Going Low is dedicated to showing you how to “stand back and let the big dog eat”— in other words, to crush it off the tee.
Throughout my 15 years of teaching, I’ve learned no two swings are alike. I’ve also learned that, despite the individual thumbprint every player puts on his or her swing, good swings share several common traits at key points. Unfortunately, these traits differ from the commonalities found in the swings of lesser-skilled golfers. In fact, high-handicapped golfers tend to do the exact opposite of what a fundamentally solid swing requires.
Reigning PGA champ Rich Beem is a long-hitting, aggressive player with a swing more reminiscent of the players of the ’70s and ’80s, than the current, video-taught golfers of the modern era. The first thing you’ll notice about Beem is his extremely long, upright backswing, which is a bit like Tom Watson’s in his heyday. You’ll also notice that he drives his legs excessively toward the target like Jack Nicklaus. While the overall look of the swing is powerful yet a bit sloppy, Beem knows how to make it work. And his go-for-broke style not only makes him tough to beat when he’s playing well, but also makes him a lot of fun to watch.
Maximize your distance by learning the methods of some of the Tour?s longest hitters
"How do those guys hit it so far?” has got to be the most common question asked by recreational golfers in regard to the pros. Strength training, stretching, finely tuned equipment and lots of practice are certainly part of the reason, not to mention outrageous amounts of talent. But while it’s relatively easy to understand why tall, strongly built guys like Tiger Woods, Ernie Els and Vijay Singh can crush their tee shots, it’s not clear to most golf fans why a lot of the average-sized guys on Tour can do it, too.
I’d like to let readers in on a little secret that professional long drivers share among themselves: Maximum distance results from somewhat less than maximum effort. Trust me, I’ve been competing in the long drive arena for 20 years, and during that time, I’ve watched competitive long drivers post their best distances when they throttle back from an all-out assault on the ball. So will you.
Tour players are hitting the ball dramatically farther these days. Improvements in clubs and balls are contributing factors, but so is the fact that professionals have learned to reduce the amount of spin on their drives. Today’s players put in long hours finding ways to reduce backsin and create the optimal launch angle. Work on the tips below to take spin off your tee shots and hit longer, more penetrating drives.
Many amateur golfers sacrifice power and distance because they become infatuated with swinging at the ball—not through it. They’re so intently focused on making solid contact that they become fixated with the point of impact.
Driving the golf ball consistently can lower your scores and increase your enjoyment faster than any other area of the game. Likewise, nothing is more frustrating than having your driver go sour in the middle of a round. When it comes to driving, one of the most common problems for amateurs and pros alike is too much tension. Overly tense muscles not only rob you of distance, but also make accurate driving, and long driving for that matter, extremely difficult. Plus, tension saps your body of energy, making it that much more difficult to play your best. To help get your driver back on track when you need it most, try this quick tip for greater relaxation and better swings.
In the boxing world, the fighter who can connect his rights has a good shot of knocking out his opponent. In golf, the same holds true, but instead of crosses and uppercuts, you need to connect your right hip and shoulder, a move that augments your balance, puts greater power into your swing and otherwise facilitates a pure, on-plane motion.
Here’s a drill that transforms golfers into more consistent ballstrikers and longer hitters. The most remarkable aspect of this drill is that it doesn’t involve swinging a golf club at all, but I feel strongly it best teaches the athletic movements involved with swinging a club.
One of the main reasons why recreational golfers can’t generate the power they’d like to is that they never fully get the club in their hands on-plane, especially the longer irons and, to an even greater extent, the driver. What recreational golfers need to understand is that the plane on which the club should travel changes from club to club—it’s a path dictated by the lie angle of the iron or wood you wish to swing. As the lie angle decreases from the short irons to the driver, the desired swing plane becomes flatter.
Every golfer will experience periods of inconsistent ballstriking, low confidence and a general sensation of swinging out of sync. For these times, I offer a quick fix: Quiet your lower body, and concentrate on swinging the golf club with only your hands and arms.
A major fault of both accomplished and recreational golfers alike is taking the club too far inside on the backswing. This inside position generally leads to the club getting stuck behind the right hip (for right-handed golfers) on the downswing, preventing the desired, down-the-line release. Getting stuck too far inside creates a number of problems, the most serious of which is a compensatory flipping of the hands at impact, a move that creates nothing but glancing blows and non-compressed golf shots.